By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
I hate this annual announcement… because it’s always weird and I always like most everyone who is nominated for awards, both the artists and the companies backing them. The indie community means something and it is more about the art than most other awards. That said…
Indie Spirit nominating committees are social clubs in a small social club. They split up the work in odd ways, so arguments people make about other groups about how many nominations for a film or actors not getting in or whatever don’t really apply. But you can basically see the infrastructure settling in a country mile away. This is a cousins’ club. People rotate in and out, but the pool remains pretty much the same, except for a few annual additions. It’s like The Oscars, except the cult is 1/80th the size.
Indie Spirit post-nomination voting is basically an arthouse People’s Choice Award, which doesn’t raise the bar on discerning views. It tends to be a popularity contest. If you want to be a voter, join FIND for $75, get access to a bunch of free movie screenings, and vote. You don’t have to see the nominees. You don’t have to do anything… but pay your fare and join.
So the awards are a bit schizo.
Then add the continuing domination of more expensive indies, mostly from Dependents. Even if they aren’t expensive to make, they have been given a relatively huge marketing push to get them where they are. How does Ira Sachs’ intimate drama of sexuality, Keep The Lights On, get into the group with noms for Picture, director, and screenplay? This year, it’s the cream in the coffee. Every year, there tends to be one. If Searchlight hadn’t picked up Beasts, it probably would have been that coming off its IFC release. The two other filmmakers that pulled off the hat trick? Wes Anderson and David O. Russell.
Richard Linklater must be wondering how Bernie got made, with nominations for Picture and Best Actor, since his script and his directing didn’t make the cut. But that, too, is part of the weirdness, as he’s a 5-time ISA nominee.
Conversely, how do The Sessions, Killer Joe, End of Watch feel about being relegated to the “good actors” slots?
I have found the history of ISA winners to be pretty consistent. Popularity and/or Oscar nominations lead to wins. The one oddity, I think, can be relentless pushing of one particular title that is “good for you” and this year, that’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. It also happens to be a very cinematic movie. If Silver Linings Playbook really heats up, that could end up winning Best Picture instead. Aside from that, the only category I am really not sure about is Best Actor, which is star-laden this year. I expect Matthew McConaughey to take supporting for Magic Mike, so the odds of him winning Lead and Supporting are slim. That leaves Bradley Cooper, Jack Black, and John Hawkes (with easily the showiest performance) duking it out. Also note that I am going Central Park Five only because of timing… it has the heat right now. A hard push by one of the other films or Oscar nods to the exclusion of other films could turn that heat elsewhere.
And note… NOT NECESSARILY MY PREFERENCES. With due respect to my projected winners and the others, this list is based on how ISA tends to vote, not my personal feelings, pro or con.
Picture – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Director – Wes Anderson
Screenplay – Moonrise Kingdom
First Feature – Perks of Being A Wallflower
First Screenplay – Safety Not Guaranteed
Cassavetes – Middle of Nowhere
Female Lead – Jennifer Lawrence
Male Lead – Bradley Cooper/Jack Black/John Hawkes
Supporting Female – Helen Hunt
Supporting Male – Matthew McConaughey
Cinematography – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Documentary – The Central Park Five
International – Rust & Bone